My mom had me and my sisters fairly early in life. Some sources say that women continue to have children very young if life these days, but some sources also say that women are waiting until they’re older to have children. The questions is, is it a good idea to wait to have children, or does it increase your chances of having a child with birth defects?

It’s true that there are some health risks associated with having children too late in life, such as having a child with Down Syndrome or having health complications like developing gestational diabetes. However, there are some advantages as well. For one, you’re more likely to love longer, and there are emotional and financial advantages as well. Psychologist Kirsty Budds wrote a paper in 2012 entitled a "Critical Discursive Analysis of 'Delayed' Motherhood.” She dislikes the term “delayed” when describing late pregnancies because it implies that women made the choice for selfish reasons rather than responsible reasons.

Most medical professionals consider the age of 35 to be when women begin to have babies with birth defects due to age, but the most serious risks actually happen closer to 40 and beyond.

Budds says that "for a lot of women it isn't a selfish choice but is based around careful decisions, careful negotiations and life circumstances such as the right partner and the right financial position. These women are effectively responsibly trying to produce the best situation in which to have children, which is encouraged societally, but then they are chastised because they are giving birth when older, when it is more risky."

Despite the risks, more moms than ever are waiting longer to have children, or they keep having children well into their 40’s. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics reports between 1980 and 2004 the number of women who gave birth at 30 has doubled, and the women who gave birth at age 35 has tripled, and after age 40 the amount of women giving birth has almost quadrupled. Modern medicine has not completely eradicated the risks that can come with a late pregnancy, but it has done enough that more women feel comfortable trying to conceive late in life and their prize is being able to see their children grow up and create a family of their own. 

Source: University of Huddersfield (2012, September 3). Late motherhood: A selfish choice. ScienceDaily.

Keyword Tags: